A Sad Adios
Magical Mystical Teacher is right, I did get some good advice- thanks to all who took the time to comment.
How did yesterday go? Well, it started with a quick faculty meeting in the auditorium- several people hadn't yet heard. We were to tell the kids that a student of ours passed away over the weekend in a car accident and leave it at that. They did bring in several counselors from other schools, but honestly, the kids don't want to talk to people they don't know.
My first 2 blocks were pretty quiet. Only 1 or 2 kids in each of those classes even knew the kid or his brother, so weren't so close to it all. My 4th block class wanted to talk. One girl was with the family most of the weekend- many of them shared where they were when they found out. (Gotta love cell phones/texting- probably 500 people or more knew he was gone within an hour of his passing). I brought a card and all the kids signed it. I kind of let them call the shots- they had spent most of the weekend with each other and talking and crying, so I think they did want a little bit of normalcy in their day- just to know that things go on, that things can be all right.
I am amazed by my students- they have rallied together and organized memorials to be set up in a local park- collecting money for a bench in his name, Facebook pages that are a tribute to him, one kid is collecting money for wristbands, all the boys have shaved their heads (they had to shave his head at the hospital as a result of a head injury suffered in the accident- I guess he was very particular about his hair, so his brother shaved his own head in solidarity.) They set up a little memorial at the site of the accident with posters and markers and flowers and candles. They have arranged a senior prank- one that he always wanted to do (at the graduation ceremony, each kid-class of 400-is to hand our principal a small plastic dinosaur as they go up to receive their diplomas.)
The driver is devastated, as anyone would be. The kids have surrounded him with love, too. He is going to go ahead and have a graduation party, and I'm so glad he is. The parents of the boy who died (C) are having a "graduation memorial" party for their son in a few weeks as well.
I don't know if my student, the brother of C, will return for the end of the school year. I think there is some kind of unwritten rule that says if your brother is killed unexpectedly 2 weeks before the end of the year, you can just have the grade you were getting and not have to do any makeup work or take your finals. Don't you think that's only fair?